Written by Lisa Allen, MD
We all think of going to the gym as a healthy choice, but it is also a place that can be filled with hidden dangers and many risks of injury. Fitness centers that are not well maintained can be dangerous if they allow you to work out on broken equipment, and unclean conditions can lead to a variety of illnesses.
Lack of knowledge about the proper ways to warm up and cool down can result in pain and injuries that will keep you out of the gym for a period of time. Unqualified personal trainers can offer bad advice that will keep you from getting maximum benefits from your workouts, and even cause injury if exercises are done improperly. Before you head out to get fit, find out what steps you need to take to stay safe at the gym.
Keep Germs at Bay
One of the easiest places to pick up germs at your gym is in the shower area. The damp environment is a breeding ground for bacteria, but you can take steps to stay healthy in these conditions. The most important one is to wear flip flops in the shower at all times. This will keep you clear of a variety of ills that include athlete`s foot, plantar warts and other types of infections.
It is also a good idea to wipe down equipment both before and after using it. The person who was using that bench press machine before you may have had the sniffles or worse. As a courtesy to others, also wipe down the equipment after you have used it, and stay away from the gym when you are sick to avoid spreading germs.
Tips for a Safe Workout
It is always important to warm up your body before any type of exercise, since straining cold muscles can result in pain and injury. A warm up can be as simply as five to ten minutes of easy walking on the treadmill or around the track.
Likewise, a cool down period will allow your body to recover after hard exercise is completed, and can be done with additional light walking or some gentle stretching. During your workout, you should always have a water bottle at your side, since dehydration is another risk during strenuous exercise.
Proper form is extremely important in any type of workout to avoid injury, whether you are walking on the treadmill or pumping iron in the free weight area. If you are new to the world of fitness, it is a good idea to begin with a personal trainer who will guide you in the proper ways to use the equipment and design a program that will fit well with your goals and fitness level.
Once you have the hang of your workout, you can go solo. However, it is important to always focus on your form and the proper way to complete the exercise to ensure that you do not hurt yourself.
Going to the gym is a wonderful, healthy habit to get into, as long as you take a few precautions to avoid illness and injury. By following these tips you will be able to enjoy safe workouts as you strive to meet your fitness goals.